What Counts As 'Micro-Cheating' — And 9 Big Signs Your Man's Doing It

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Everyone has seen that one guy who toes the line between being a loyal boyfriend and being a straight-up cheater.

He’s the who seems to get joy out of making his girlfriend jealous, regardless of how often she may reproach him. He’s the one who your friends want to warn you about or look pityingly at you for dating him.

In a word, he’s a micro-cheater.

What is micro-cheating?

Micro-cheating is doing behavior that isn’t appropriate for someone in a relationship to do but isn’t quite cheating. Unlike infidelity, micro-cheating is done out in the open.

It’s the kind of behavior that you know you’re uncomfortable with, but are too scared of being called “jealous” or “possessive” to actually confront him about.

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The thing is, you should confront him about it. Though it’s not obviously cheating, it’s the behavior that makes you worried that he is cheating, or makes you feel like you’re not enough for him.

In many cases, micro-cheating is a sign that he is (or will be) cheating on you.

Here are some examples of micro-cheating you may have seen or experienced in your relationship:

1. Openly flirting with other girls in front of you, then writing it off as being “a natural player”

2. Making joking comments about wanting to have sex with your friends

3. Downplaying the nature of your relationship to others, such as saying, “It’s not serious” when you two just moved in together and were shopping for rings

4. Texting girls the way he’d text you when he was courting you

5. Having female friends sitting on his lap or getting unusually handsy with him, even when you’ve voiced your discomfort about it

6. Getting thirsty on Facebook over other girls’ photos, then telling you, “It’s just a stranger, jeez!”

7. Treating you like all the rest of his “female friends,” with the small exception of you having the girlfriend label

8. Flirting with your friends to the point that they actually tell you it’s getting awkward and they don’t want to be near him

9. Badgering you for threesomes, even after you told him it doesn’t make you comfortable

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These kinds of behaviors aren’t innocent, and they should worry you.

Why do men micro-cheat?

The reason why guys micro-cheat is because they want to have their cake and eat it too, much like regular cheaters do.

The only difference is that they don’t actually have sex with the girls, and they don’t have full-blown emotional affairs with the girls. Instead of going the whole nine yards, they just get their egos boosted by having other women act as pseudo-girlfriends.

The problem with micro-cheating isn’t just that they might eventually cheat; it’s that the guy is showing where his priorities lie. And his priority isn’t you, it’s the other women he’s flirting with.

Their need for approval and validation from other women trumps their need to keep you happy. While he may see this as OK in his book, we all know that if the shoe was on the other foot, he’d be flipping out.

Though he can argue that it’s “all good fun” and that he’s “not doing anything wrong,” the truth is he knows what he’s doing and he’s hoping you’ll just deal with it.

That being said, if you’re being micro-cheated on, you’re not crazy for asking for boundaries with him.

But rather than try to explain it, your best bet may just be to walk away and let him act like a player. There’s probably better guys out there, and frankly, guys who behave this way aren’t good for the long-term, either.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others. Follow her on Twitter for more.